Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Since defective climate science projections produced by federal agencies still stand uncorrected, the EPA continues to use those defective climate science projections to create a cascade of defective recommendations.
The Environmental Protection Agency published a 150-page document this past week with a straightforward message for coping with the fallout from natural disasters across the country: Start planning for the fact that climate change is going to make these catastrophes worse.
The language, included in guidance on how to address the debris left in the wake of floods, hurricanes and wildfires, is at odds with the rhetoric of the EPA’s own leader, Andrew Wheeler. Just last month, Wheeler said in an interview with CBS that “most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out.”
The divergence between Wheeler and his own agency offers the latest example of the often contradictory way that federal climate policy has evolved under President Trump. As the White House has sought to minimize or ignore climate science, government experts have continued to sound the alarm.
…Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/new-epa-document-tells-communities-to-brace-for-climate-change-impacts/2019/04/27/09cf8df6-6836-11e9-82ba-fcfeff232e8f_story.html
From the new EPA document;
Cleaning up this debris can be time-consuming and costly, extending the recovery from the disaster. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Hurricane Katrina, one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in U.S. history, resulted in more than 99 million cubic yards of debris, totaling greater than $3.7 billion in debris removal costs alone (https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2006/08/22/numbers-one-year-later). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that from 1980-2017, the U.S. has experienced 219 natural disasters that resulted in at least $1 billion in damages per event, costing the U.S. more than $1.5 trillion. Ten of these disasters occurred in 2015; fifteen of these disasters occurred in 2016. In 2017, sixteen of these disasters occurred, resulting in the most expensive year on record for disasters, with $306.2 billion in cumulative damages. This total replaces the previous annual record cost of $214.8 billion (adjusted for inflation), which was established in 2005 due to the impacts of Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma. (NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters (2018): https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/.) According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, which is a detailed report on climate change impacts on the U.S., climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of some natural disasters (http://s3.amazonaws.com/nca2014/low/NCA3_Climate_Change_Impacts_in_the_United%20States_LowRes.pdf?download=1). The amount of debris generated by natural disasters, and the costs to manage it, will likely increase as a result.
Communities at risk of significant damage from a natural disaster.
- Communities at increased risk from natural disasters due to climate change.
- Communities currently without an existing or comprehensive debris management plan.
- Communities with emergency response plans that overlook disaster debris cleanup or
consider only a limited number of debris management options.
- Communities in the beginning stages of the debris management planning process.
- Communities with existing debris management plans that have not been updated with
new information, such as reductions in existing disposal capacity or innovative reuse or recycling opportunities.
Planners should focus on preparing for those disasters that are likely to happen in their communities. However, planners should not rely solely on historical information to determine the risks to their communities because the past is not a reliable predictor of future conditions under a changing climate. Recorded changes in temperature, precipitation, and wind patterns, for example, are causing extreme weather events that are creating new risks to communities and sites. More frequent and intense storms, flooding, storm surges, droughts, and wildfires— and combinations of events—may generate larger amounts of debris. Planners should also consider potential new or exacerbated risks to their communities after a disaster occurs. For example, heavy rainfall in an area devastated by wildfires can increase the possibility of massive mudslides due to destroyed vegetation on slopes. Examples of the types of debris that may be generated from natural disasters include vegetative debris (e.g., brush and trees), animal carcasses, construction and demolition (C&D) debris, orphaned tanks (i.e., abandoned tanks with no known or financially viable owner), marine or waterway debris, sediment, vehicles, white goods (i.e., household appliances, such as stoves, refrigerators, washers/dryers, air conditioner units), and electronics waste (e.g., computer equipment, cell phones).
FLOODS occur when excess water submerges land, such as from prolonged heavy rains or changes in the environment (e.g., land development) around streams, rivers, and coastal areas that reduce the ability of the ground to absorb water. Floods can occur in coastal and inland areas, making them the most common natural disaster in the U.S. Climate change may intensify flooding across the U.S., even in areas where total precipitation is projected to decline (http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report/sectors/water). The FEMA Flood Map Service Center provides tools to understand an area’s flood risk (https://msc.fema.gov/portal/). FEMA is also working with federal, state, local, and tribal partners to identify flood risk and help reduce that risk using Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning (Risk MAP) (https://www.fema.gov/risk-mapping-assessment-and-planning-risk-map). Additionally, NOAA’s Office of Water Prediction collaboratively researches, develops, and delivers state-of-the-science national hydrologic analyses, forecast information, data, decision-support services, and guidance to support and inform essential emergency services and water management decisions (http://water.noaa.gov/ and http://water.weather.gov/ahps/).
HURRICANES are severe tropical storms that form in the ocean and can make landfall along coastal communities in the U.S., bringing with them winds of at least 74 miles per hour, heavy rains, and large waves that can damage trees, buildings, and infrastructure. Hurricane-associated storm intensity, frequency, and duration have substantially increased since the 1980s and are projected to continue increasing as the climate warms (http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report /our-changing-climate/changes-hurricanes). NOAA maintains the National Hurricane Center (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/) and Central Pacific Hurricane Center (http://www.prh.noaa.gov/cphc/) to provide forecasts and warnings for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Eastern and Central Pacific Ocean, including some of the resulting hazards, such as storm surge.
WINTER STORMS are events that include large amounts of snow, sleet, or freezing rain. Areas with below-freezing temperatures are at risk of winter storms. Since the 1950s, winter storms have become more frequent and intense and have shifted northward over the U.S. (http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report/our-changing-climate/changes-storms).
I’m not sure my quotes fully capture how riddled with climate references this useless EPA document is – well worth a read if you have a strong stomach.